Integrating physical and mental health

Why we’re doing this project

People using health and care services commonly find that their physical and mental health needs are addressed in a disconnected way. These two aspects of health are closely interdependent, and there is clear evidence that neglecting one can damage the other. Despite this, fragmented approaches to health and care are widespread and contribute to poorer outcomes for people with long-term physical health conditions, major inequalities in life expectancy for people with severe mental illnesses, and increased pressures on health service budgets and staff.

Integrated care has become an important movement in the heath and care system, but the opportunities presented by integration of physical and mental health have not yet received sufficient attention. This project aims to explore what an integrated approach towards physical and mental health should involve.

What we’re doing

Our work in this area has three main components:

  • understanding what an integrated approach towards physical and mental health would look like from the perspective of service users and carers
  • examining and sharing case studies of innovative practice in the UK and internationally
  • analysing research evidence on the case for closer integration of physical and mental health, and on the effectiveness of different approaches towards doing so.

We also work with local system leaders exploring how physical and mental health care can be integrated in practice, by providing independent strategic support and facilitation. Through our work in this area we hope to inform policy-making and practice, and support the development of new models of care.

Key milestones

We published the main report from our research in March 2016 and held a conference to share innovative practice in this area.

Main contact

For more information please contact Chris Naylor, Senior Fellow in Health Policy: c.naylor@kingsfund.org.uk. If you have any examples of innovative practice in your local area, we would like to hear from you.